The clod couple
This is Gérard Depardieu in a role that seems written for him, although La tête en friche is based on a book that presumably did not have him in mind. He plays Germain Chazes, a bear of a man, suffering quietly from having been bullied at school for his size, hated by his mother for existing and taken for granted by almost everyone else. Germain’s opinion of himself is about as low as it gets, but it’s a very private self-hatred, until he meets the wonderfully refined, elderly Margueritte (Gisèle Casadesus) in the park one day.
She immediately recognizes his gentleness, as well as his near-illiteracy. As she reads to him, their mutual respect grows into friendship. Germain begins to develop a real appreciation for words and books, to the amazement and even alienation of his friends from the local bar. Soon Germain is forced to find a new place for himself in the tight social structure of his village, and even though the psychology of his development is perhaps a little shallow, the way he grows is so dignified, you can’t help but fall in love with him a little yourself.
LA TÊTE EN FRICHE | Directed by Jean Becker (France 2010) with Gérard Depardieu, Gisèle Casadesus. Opens January 6